Note: This article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
On Thursday, Vanderbilt University and Northwestern University faced off in the first round of NCAA's March Madness tournament.
The nail-biting match-up came down to the final seconds. After a come-from-behind lead in the second half, Vanderbilt was ahead by one point with 20 seconds left in the game.
Then, Northwestern player Bryant McIntosh went for the basket. To prevent him from scoring, Vanderbilt's junior guard Matthew Fisher-Davis grabbed him from behind.
Credit: Giphy/Colin Fitzgerald
The foul gave Northwestern two free shots, which they made. The Northwestern players held onto their narrow lead, and Vanderbilt ended up losing the game by a matter of seconds and points.
Everyone on the team was likely disappointed by their first-round knockout, but Fisher-Davis took the loss especially hard. After the game, Business Insider reported that he said:
“I made a dumb-a** foul. That was it. I saw [head coach Bryce] Drew point but that was just to tell me I [was defending] 30 ... Obviously it’s hard to take. I especially feel bad for our seniors, going out like that, off a play like that.”
While the college junior blamed himself for the loss, Coach Bryce Drew reminded fans and players that there is no “I” in team.
“From day one,” the coach has taught his players that “we're a team” and explained that “one or two plays” doesn't lose a game. As transcribed by Business Insider, Drew said:
“There's plays throughout the whole game that coaches can call better, that players can play better, we've had that pattern through the whole year with our guys ... He's down about it ... But one play doesn't lose the game for you.”
The team seemed to have heard the coach's message loud and clear before the end of the game when he shared it with reporters.
During the officials' timeout following the game-winning free throws, senior Luke Kornet embraced Fisher-Davis. According to USA Today, Kornet chalked the foul up to a “mistake” and told reporters:
“He's the type of person that he feels some blame for it ... I just wanted to let him know that, we're with him no matter what. Every single one of us and what our team is.”
It might have been Fisher-Davis' day to make a mistake, but Kornet claimed it could have been any one of them. He explained that they've all been there, and when a mistake happens, the team's “going to be around me and support me and vice versa.”
Drew corroborated Fisher-Davis' claim that a miscommunication could have happened when the player looked at his coach and saw him point. The junior player had 22 points throughout the game, and Drew credited him for the crucial role he's played on the team:
“Without him we're not even close to being in that situation at the end.”
This was Kornet's last game as a Vanderbilt Commodore, but as reported by USA Today, he managed to see the big picture despite his own personal disappointment and echoed his coach's sentiment:
“The second half, we had no chance if he didn't make some of the shots that he did.”
The coach, akin to a ship captain, rises and falls with his crew. And some coaches dish a harsh reality to their players after a tough loss.
But despite the loss, Business Insider reported that Coach Drew is “proud” of his team for “fighting back” and being able to get to the point where they were “in that situation.”
Fisher-Davis' team wasn't the only place he received support that day. According to The Tennessean, Northwestern Coach Chris Collins hugged the player at the end of the game. He tried to encourage the student-athlete and told reporters after the game:
"It was an honest mistake. He’s such a good player. I just feel badly for Fisher-Davis.”
Ultimately, his coach saw a newfound “maturity” in his player throughout the game and seemed to be focused more on the 22 points he scored, rather than the one, specific foul he made.